The Thanksgiving holiday fills the month of November. It begins with thoughts of what to cook (or not cook) this year, and who’s coming for dinner — and it isn’t over until the last slice of pie is served Thanksgiving Day. Taking a break from the holiday to-do list, I visit the farm stands for the last time this year before they shutter and move to indoor markets or take a much needed (and well-deserved) winter recess. I reflect on how thankful I am for our local farmers, who make it so easy for us to celebrate local fare and prepare a good meal at home. It’s a beautiful thing to eat simply, seasonally and locally.
Craving warmth and comfort, the inspiration for this month’s Farm to Plate recipe is one of my favorite soups: Ribollita. I first enjoyed it when studying in Florence, Italy, many years ago and I’m forever trying to capture the nostalgic taste of this Tuscan soup. While it features an array of hearty vegetables and crusty bread, it’s the kale that gives it a certain depth of color and flavor. You can find local kale at our North Fork farm stands — and I love the lacinato variety for this recipe especially. What makes this soup even more fitting for November is that it’s meant to be made with whatever vegetables you have on hand — and I’m sure there are plenty with all the holiday side-dish prep going on!
Happy cooking and happy holidays!
Ribollita soup with local kale
- 1/2 loaf crusty country bread; round loaf
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed. Seeds removed.
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, rinsed
- 1/2 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
- 4 cups vegetable stock/broth
- 3 thyme sprigs (optional)
- 1 lb. kale, thick stems and veins removed, chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Slice the bread into large cubes and put it on a sheet pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss to make sure the bread is coated. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until toasted and golden brown. Remove and set aside.
- In a large stock pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Sprinkle a little kosher salt. Add the butternut squash. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly, until softened (about 25 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon. Do not let the garlic brown.
- Add the tomato sauce, vegetable broth and thyme sprigs. Cook over medium heat, stirring.
- Add the white beans and fresh kale and stir until combined. Add half of the toasted ciabatta bread and stir. Let simmer a little bit longer until the kale has fully cooked and the bread has softened and absorbed some of the liquid.
- Remove from the heat. Discard the thyme sprigs. Spoon out 2 cups of the soup mixture into a bowl. With the remaining soup in the pot, use an immersion blender to thicken the soup. Pulse a few times. Add the 2 cups of soup back in the pot and stir gently to combine.
- Spoon soup into bowls. Top with any leftover toasted bread croutons. Finish with a drizzle of your favorite extra virgin olive oil and shaved Parmigiano. Enjoy!